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*** CHRISTOPHER LAWRENCE "United States of Trance" Moonshine

January 21, 2001|STEVE BALTIN

In the increasingly high-profile trance music scene, the royal court is made up of the two Pauls (Van Dyk and Oakenfold). They are generally regarded as not only the top DJs in the genre, but, along with Sasha and John Digweed, the leaders of the DJ world.

It's not surprising, given how Eurocentric the electronic community is, that the aforementioned four are all from Europe. However, Los Angeles-based Christopher Lawrence is, in the eyes of many, on the cusp of cracking that elite group. On this mix CD (in stores Tuesday), Lawrence displays the discerning song selection, alternately smooth and showy transitions and virtually unparalleled ability to create rising crescendos that have earned him the heady moniker "the Trance Messiah."

Early in the collection, Lawrence brings the throbbing energy of Skynet UK's "Hold On" to a slow fade before lifting it up just in time to bound into the pulsating beat of Hear-O's frenetic, bass-heavy "Now Hear This." Lawrence continually uses the stop-and-start technique masterfully, and the mix reaches its zenith with DJ Merlyn's soulful "Wales." Lawrence's placement of the track shows the dexterity and flair for drama that make live audiences putty in his hands.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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